In my last post I offered my training tips for Ride the Rockies...also known as "The Swollen Uvula Incident and other lessons I've learned over the past four years on Ride the Rockies." In doing so, I neglected to discuss one key element of surviving Ride the Rockies...nutrition. Providing proper fuel for your body is a critical component of training for and finishing Ride the Rockies.
This is one of the hardest lessons I've learned in my adult life...the key to leading a healthy, active lifestyle is eating right and getting some exercise! For those of you who didn't know me when, I once weighed a whopping 270 lbs! I was clinically obese.
[Above: That's me on the left with Santa Claus at the Agri/Washington office Christmas party, Dec. 1995; on the right at the KC MS150, Sept. 2001).
I was 30 years old, my second daughter was on the way and I was living a sedentary lifestyle. My idea of eating right was having a grilled spicy chicken sandwich with extra mayo, two slices of cheese and a large soda for lunch every day at the Korean deli next to my office on K Street.
At home we grilled a lot of boneless, skinless chicken breasts thinking we were eating healthy, but we coated it in KC Masterpiece barbecue sauce. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with KC Masterpiece (#2 ingredient is high fructose corn syrup). My point is that in order to make chicken palatable you have to add either mayo, cheese, barbecue sauce, or some other form of fat or carbohydrate to make it taste good.
So I changed my diet. Actually, I went on a diet with some encouragement from my younger brother who had begun selling a popular weight loss program with herbal supplements and shakes.* But I knew that, in the long run, if I was going to keep the weight off I needed to start getting some exercise, so I started riding my bike. I loved riding and went from 10 to 20 to 30 miles on Saturday mornings. Then a friend at Church of the Resurrection invited me to join a group of cyclists from the church training to ride in the Kansas City MS150 -- a two-day, 150-mile ride to raise money for multiple sclerosis research.
That Fall I finshed my first MS150. Eight years and seven MS150s, 10 sprint triathlons, one Ironman 70.3 and four Ride the Rockies later, I maintain that healthy weight and fuel my body with lean beef. Of course I also get plenty of carbs -- some good (whole grains and fruits) and some bad (sugars, liquids). But it's lean beef that fuels my body for long distance events and provides the provides the protein I need to build (or, at my age, maintain!) muscle mass.
[Above and Below: BEEF. It's What's For Dinner...on Ride the Rockies 2008)
Every athlete knows you need carbs for short term fuel and protein to repair and build muscle mass after intense workouts. What many don't know is that not all proteins are the same. Ounce for ounce, beef provides more essential nutrients and vitamins than other popular sources of protein. Beef gives my zinc for a healthy immune system, iron to help carry oxygen to my muscles (very important at high altitude) and vitamins B12 and B6 for energy.
The bottomline is that I don't eat eat much fowl these days. Why bother, when lean beef provides so many more nutrients and vitamins your body needs to stay active and healthy? And by the time you add something to chicken to make it taste good you're getting more fat than if you just grilled up a great lean Kansas City Strip or one of the other 29 lean cuts of beef.
Beef. It's What's For Dinner...on Ride the Rockies 2009!
*My brother switched to Melaleuca a few years ago and I am still one of his best customers! I love their sports nutrition products, as well as their home and body products.